Governance, Risk, Security, and Compliance

Area Description

Operating at scale requires a different mindset. When the practitioner was starting out, the horizon seemed bounded only by imagination, will, and talent. At enterprise scale, it is a different world. The practitioner finds themselves constrained by indifferent forces and hostile adversaries, some of them competing fairly, and others seeking to attack by any means. Whether or not the organization is a for-profit, publicly traded company, it is now large enough that audits are required; it is also likely to have directors of some nature. The concept of “controls” has entered the practitioner’s awareness.

As a team of teams, the practitioner needs to understand resource management, finance, the basics of multiple product management and coordination, and cross-functional processes. At the enterprise level, they need also to consider questions of corporate governance. Stakeholders have become more numerous, and their demands have multiplied, so the well-established practice of establishing a governing body is applied.

Security threats increase proportionally to the company’s size. The talent and persistence of these adversaries are remarkable. Other challenging players are, on paper, “on the same side”, but auditors are never to be taken for granted. Why are they investigating IT systems? What are their motivations and responsibilities? Finally, what laws and regulations are relevant to IT?

As with other Competency Areas in the later part of this document, we are going to some degree introduce this topic “on its own terms”. We will then add additional context and critique in subsequent sections.

The organization has been concerned with security as a technical practice since your company started. Otherwise, you would not have gotten this big. But now, it has a Chief Information Security Officer (CISO), formal risk management processes, a standing director-level security steering committee, auditors, and compliance specialists. That kind of formalization does not usually happen until an organization grows to a certain size.

More than any other Competency Area, the location of this material, and especially its Security subsection, draws attention. Again, any topic in any Competency Area may be a matter of concern at any stage in an organization’s evolution. Security technical practices were introduced in Context I.

This document needed the content in Context III to get this far. It was critical to understand structure, how the organization was organizing our strategic investments, and how the organization is engaging in operational activities. In particular it is difficult for an organization to govern itself without some ability to define and execute processes, as processes often support governance controls and security protocols.

This Competency Area covers “Governance, Risk, Security, and Compliance” because there are clear relationships between these concerns. They have important dimensions of independence as well. It is interesting that Shon Harris' popular CISSP® All-In-One Exam Guide [Harris 2013] starts its discussion of security with a chapter titled “Information Security Governance and Risk Management”. Governance leads to a concern for risk, and security specializes in certain important classes of risk. Security requires grounding in governance and risk management.

Compliance is also related but again distinct, as is the concern for adherence to laws and regulations, and secondarily internal policy.

Competency Area 10 “Governance, Risk, Security, and Compliance” High-Level Dimensions

  • Define governance versus management

  • Describe key objectives of governance according to major frameworks

  • Define risk management and its components

  • Describe and distinguish assurance and audit, and describe their importance to digital operations

  • Discuss digital security concerns and practices

  • Identify common regulatory compliance issues

  • Describe how governance is retaining its core concerns while evolving in light of Digital Transformation

  • Describe automation techniques relevant to supporting governance objectives throughout the digital delivery pipeline